Raiders receiver Antonio Brown wants to wear the helmet he wore during nine seasons with the Steelers. His insistence on getting his way has become one of the strangest off-field stories in recent memory, if not ever.
Here’s an interesting question about the situation: Did the Steelers know that the helmet fight was coming?
Although Brown’s helmet isn’t one of the 11 models that as of this year are banned from use by NFL players, Brown’s helmet simply couldn’t be certified for use again because it’s now more than 10 years old. Last year, it wasn’t. It’s fair to wonder whether someone at some point within the Steelers organization became aware that 2018 was the last year that Brown could wear his helmet of choice.
Given that the Steelers knew Brown’s proclivities and eccentricities as well as anyone, it’s possible that they sensed the coming storm. Avoiding this potential distraction to their 2019 preseason preparations may have been one of the factors in the team’s decision to move on from Brown.
Yes, the perception is that Brown broke up with the Steelers. That he wanted out and got out. But the Steelers may have wanted him out, opting to let him think he was getting his way because the broader objective was just to get him away from the organization.
The next question becomes whether the Raiders knew anything about this potential helmet issue before trading for Brown. Although they can’t be surprised that he’s behaving in a manner similar to the way he behaved in Pittsburgh, whether they welcomed Brown to town knowing that the helmet situation could become a thing is interesting, to say the least.
Given the stunning nature of Brown’s stubborn refusal to bend to collectively-bargained rules, it’s safe to assume the Raiders didn’t realize this was coming. And while the Steelers, if they knew about the looming helmet issue, may not have expected such an explosion over it, they’re probably not surprised — and they’re probably very happy that he’s currently someone else’s headache.